By Kristen Hawley | 16 February, 2021
Established and up-and-coming artists are utilizing the power of TikTok everyday to further their music’s reach and hope to become attached to a viral trend. But, artists don’t have to just wait for a trend to generate traction for their music. They can create their own buzz and demand directly within their fanbase.
Canadian pop singer, Tate McRae, always teases snippets of her songs and directs fans to pre-save it. And says that once the song hits “x” amount of pre-saves she’ll drop the song. This strategy has worked to promote and hype her 3.6M TikTok followers to create their own videos demanding the release of songs like “slower”, “feel like shit”, and most recently, “she’s all I wanna be”.
Halsey recently posted TikToks where she shared a version of her single, “Nightmare” which was originally supposed to include a t.A.T.u sample of “All the Things She Said” as the chorus. And they also shared a snippet of an unreleased song written for her younger brother. Fans are duetting, stitching, commenting, and sharing that she needs to drop both songs as soon as possible.
Charlie Puth has taken his music promotion a step further and put fans in the POV of one of the song's collaborators. Charlie has been teasing the step-by-step production of the song, “Light Switch” since early September 2021. The first video went viral with over 118 million views and 15.7 million likes. Charlie promised fans that if “Light Switch” got to 100,000 pre saves that he would finish and drop the song. Throughout the rest of 2021, Charlie teased different parts of the song being created and produced. And fans were begging for the full song to be released and even created social media accounts dedicated to demanding the song’s release and also to encourage streaming “Light Switch”.
Finally, five months and over 500,000 pre-saves later, “Light Switch” was released on January 20, 2022 along with the music video. This will serve as the lead single off of Charlie’s third album, “Charlie”.
Social media is the most authentic way for artists to connect with fans, promote their music, and build a united community. We see artists creating mini-documentaries series and behind-the-scenes of tours, award shows, and music videos on YouTube. Using Twitter to answer questions, get instant feedback, and seeing fans’ responses to new projects.
TikTok has mainly been responsible for so many songs becoming viral hits and launching artists’ careers to superstardom like Doja Cat, Olivia Rodrigo, and SZA. But, TikTok also has a variety of different content creation methods for artists to take part in. From dance challenges, hopping on trends, to now one’s own music promotion. It feels authentic and genuine, like a friend talking to a friend about a passion project they are excited about. Charlie’s strategy unmasks a whole new side of an artist’s job that fans don’t usually get to see.
Fans get to see Charlie develop the idea for the song and come up with the lyrics. Also, the production of each section of the song, as well as seeing that Charlie has to trial different styles and beats to see which one works and will be in the final version.
It will be interesting to see if more artists use TikTok to excite fans for upcoming releases and to increase pre-saves. This marketing strategy feels more direct and effective compared to any other marketing method for a single’s release. As well as artists posting their songwriting process on TikTok invites fans to see another side of the life of a musician that we crave to be a part of. In a world where we are always connected, communication is instantaneous, and we are more inclined to see through promotions, authenticity is vital.
Rather than have a new single accompanied by a product placement or commercial, why not have the artist take the fans along for the journey to show why they should be excited?
This also begs the question: was this strategy successful? I’d say so, considering “Light Switch” debuted at #21 on the Billboard Global 200, which is Charlie’s highest-peaking song to date, was #1 on Apple Music A-List Pop, added to countless playlists, had two million Spotify streams day one, and was the #1 Global Song Debut on Spotify during the January 21-23 weekend.
Artists, record labels, and social media marketers need to take notice that the best way to promote an artist’s work is to use the platforms that connect them to their fans and strengthen their relationship.